President Barack Obama is weathering a political storm over last month’s suspected al Qaeda plot to bomb a Detroit-bound plane, particularly from Republicans who say he dropped the ball on security while pursuing healthcare and climate reforms. But how much substance there is behind the allegations may depend on who’s talking.

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina told NBC’s Today show that he believes Obama just woke up to the gravity of the al Qaeda threat. SECURITY-AIRLINE/OBAMA

“A lot of us have been concerned over the last year that the president did seem to downplay the threat of terror. He doesn’t use the word anymore. He hesitates to say that there is a war on terror,” DeMint said.

“But in the last few days, he seems to have come around to the idea that there are people in Yemen and other places who are intent on hurting Americans,” the lawmaker added.

A completely different picture comes from Bob Woodward, the Pulitzer-winning journalist who chronicled Republican George W. Bush’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks.